Population Matters

Challenging the ‘Global Gag Rule’

Challenging the ‘Global Gag Rule’

Population Matters is supporting a range of international efforts to defend family planning following the Trump administration’s ban on overseas aid for organisations providing abortion or information about it. Please join the campaign.

In January, the so-called ‘global gag rule’ was reinstated by President Trump. The rule, which had been rescinded by President Obama when he entered office, means that the US government will not give any aid to organisations which provide abortion services or even provide clients with information about them. The impact of the rule extends beyond family planning to other health services, such as child and maternal health programmes and HIV prevention. The US is currently the world’s largest funder of family planning services through overseas aid and the move could lead to the withdrawal or redistribution of more than US$9bn of funding.

Since the measure was announced, governments and non-governmental organisations worldwide have been developing plans to address the threat to services. Population Matters is supporting these activities, including the global Day of Action which took place on 28 February.

Government responses

Very shortly after the ban was introduced, the Dutch government initiated the She Decides project, intended to generate funds to replace those likely to be withdrawn and lobby other governments to provide additional funding.

In March, an international conference was held in Brussels organised by the Dutch, Belgian, Swedish and Danish governments to examine the issues and generate action. As of March 2017, the governments of Finland, Luxembourg, France, Portugal, Canada, Cape Verde and Australia have pledged money to the initiative.

In response to calls from a group of Labour MPs to address the problem and following the She Decides conference, the UK government has made no specific commitments but announced that it will “lead efforts to secure extra funding for family planning” at a previously planned global family planning summit in London this July.

The UK is currently a leading funder of family planning worldwide.

Taking action

Population Matters is one of more than 230 organisations worldwide to support a statement backing the She Decides initiative. We have also joined more than 400 development, social justice, women’s rights and family planning organisations in signing a joint statement condemning the reinstatement of the gag rule.

Please join the campaign to defend family planning:

  1. Support the She Decides initiative.
  2. Sign the international petition.
  3. Ask your elected representative to push their governments to provide additional aid for family planning.  (If you are a UK citizen, you can use WriteToThem to identify and contact them.)
Global reaction

The reinstatement of the global gag rule (known officially as the Mexico City policy) has drawn widespread condemnation from leading health and family planning organisations across the world, including Marie Stopes International, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates told The Guardian that the policy could “create a void that even a foundation like ours can’t fill”.